Garminian insight

Oh, Garmin. They made another cute attempt to win my heart and entice me to use my Forerunner 225 more. Their app Connect sits on my phone and acts as a syncing conduit, ferrying data from my watch to the clouds. It also features something called insights. Insights are meant to be just that, insights gained by looking at my data and comparing it to that of other people. Classic kind of thing every company into quantified self, health and fitness or just plain wearables are into right now.

Here is the latest insight:

Garmin-generated insights Garmin-generated insights

The headline is "There is room for improvement", and it tells me I move less than 85% of people my age and sex. It ends with some cheerful, wholesome words about little things adding up.

Cute, well-meaning and a failure on so many levels. All the base assumptions are wrong, even though it would seem well within Garmin's power to correct them and do a better job.

I only wear my watch when I go for a run. Very generously, that means an hour of use every other day. The watch features a heart rate sensor and so many other motion sensors. Even without a detector for skin contact or something, I completely fail to see how the data does not make it super obvious it is sitting around on tables and in drawers the rest of the time. Why is all this inactive time not discarded? How good is the data about "everyone else" I am being compared to anyway? People walking around with a step counter-type band will sure collect a whole different type and amount of data than those of us with a watch for high activity.

(Another thought: if you do have to try and make guesses about my whole days, why not at least offer the option to pull in data from the health app on IOS?)

I happen to exercise regularly, I am happy with my weight and I even get a decent amount of everyday walking and biking in. I can look at "insights" like this, have a laugh and just be a little annoyed at the failure. Imagine if I was on the other side but using my watch the same way. I sure would not enjoy it complaining about my lack of movement, how my daily steps decreased a lot (because I exercised on gym machines and actually clocked a lot more real-life steps than usual because I spent my week on holiday discovering a city on foot). I just fail to see how "insights" with this level of effort does anyone any good.

All I can come up with is that some people at Garmin came up with this mostly as a way to trick people into wearing their devices all the time. Or, of course, that they came up with this cool analysis stuff and simply never thought about how people actually use the devices they apply it to.

Both options seem a bit out of touch.

It takes so much for things like this to actually be insightful, and every time it goes wrong trust and interest decreases.

I wonder if I am the only one who actually becomes less likely to drag their stuff around from attempts such as this?


Another little favorite feature of the app/watch combo is how it completely makes up my sleep time. Eight hours, every single night. It does not even try to collect any data about this, it just dutifully notes eight hours. I am not completely sure, but I think it did this even in the first few days, when I did wear it all day, and I know for sure I did not get eight hours of sleep. But no, eight hours it is and was.